Social Protest Lit.: Three Quotes On Revolt

indexToday I have three short quotes for a social protest literature post.

They all are an excerpt is from Book V called “Revolt.” This chapter pertains to “The struggle to abolish injustice; the battle cries of the new army which is gathering for the deliverance of humanity.”

First, Jean Genet, a French playwright and novelist (1910-1986) from “Prisoner of Love”:

The main object of a revolution is the liberation of man…not the interpretation and application of some transcendental ideology.

Second, “The Oath”, an oath taken by thousands of Chinese students occupying Tiananmen Square in June 1989 shortly before the tanks rolled in:

I swear, for the democratic movement and the prosperity of the country, for our motherland not to be overturned by a few conspirators, for our one billion people not to be killed in the white terror, that I am willing to defend Tiananmen Square, defend the republic, with my young life. Our heads can be broken, our blood can be shed, but we will not lose the People’s square. We will fight to the end with the last person.

And lastly, “Moral Persuasion”, by Steven Biko. Biko (1946-1977) was a Black South African political leader who died in police custody:

The power of the movement lies in the fact that it can indeed change the habits of people. This change is not the result of force but of dedication, of moral persuasion.

 

 

Social Protest Lit.: Paint Creek Miner “‘Gunmen’ in West Virginia”

index“‘Gunmen in West Virginia” by an anonymous Paint Creek Miner written during the terrible strike of 1911-1912. This is one of my favorites in the “Social Protest Lit.” series. This piece is an excerpt is from Book V called “Revolt.” This chapter pertains to “The struggle to abolish injustice; the battle cries of the new army which is gathering for the deliverance of humanity.”

The hills are very bare and cold and lonely;

I wonder what the future months will bring.

The strike is on-our strength would win, if only–

O, Buddy, how I’m longing for the spring!

They’ve got us down-their martial line enfolds us;

They’ve thrown us out to feel the winter’s sting.

And yet, by God, those curs can never hold us,

Nor could the dogs of hell do such a thing!

It isn’t just to see the hills beside me

Grow fresh and green with every growing thing’

I only want the leaves to come and hide me,

To cover up my vengeful wandering.

I will not watch the floating clouds that hover

Above the birds that warble on the wing;

I want to use this GUN from under cover–

O, Buddy, how I’m longing for the spring!

You see them there, below, the damned scab-herders!

Those puppets on the greedy Owners’ String;

We’ll make them pay for all their dirty murders–

We’ll show them how a starveling’s hate can sting!

They riddled us with volley after volley;

We heard their speeding bullets zip and ring,

But soon we’ll make them suffer for their folly–

O, Buddy, how I’m longing for the spring!

//

Social Protest Lit.: Albert Camus’ “Reflections on the Guillotine”

indexShort essay by Albert Camus entitled “Reflections on the Guillotine” from Book IV called “Out of The Depths.” This chapter is focused on man’s pursuit of remedy for social injustice:

In relation to crime, how can our civilization be defined? The reply is easy: for thirty years now, State crimes have been far more numerous than individual crimes. I am not even speaking of war, general and localized, although bloodshed too is an alcohol that eventually intoxicates like the headiest of wines. But the number of individuals killed directly by the State has assumed astronomical proportions and infinitely outnumbers private murders. There are fewer and fewer condemned by common law and more and more condemned to death, whereas the eventuality would have seemed ridiculous at the beginning of the century. Alphonse Karr’s witty remark, “Let the noble assassins begin” has no meaning now. Those who cause the blood to flow are the same ones who believe they have right, logic, and history on their side.

Hence our society must now defend herself not so much against the individual as against the State. It may be that the proportions will be reversed in another thirty years. But, for the moment, our self-defense must be aimed at the State first and foremost. Justice and expediency command the law to protect the individual against the State given over to the follies of sectarianism or of pride. “Let the State begin and abolish the death penalty” ought to be our rallying cry today.

 

//